MILWAUKEE, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Front-running Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., won Wisconsin's presidential primary for Tuesday in a surprisingly close battle with Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
With virtually 100 percent of the vote counted, Kerry was in first place with a slim 5-point lead over Edwards, 39.7 percent vs. 34.3 percent. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who earlier had said he would drop his bid for the presidential nomination if he did not win in Wisconsin, trailed badly with 18.2 percent of the vote.
Despite his poor showing, Dean announced Tuesday night he intended to remain in the race. However, he did not have any events scheduled past Tuesday and planned to head home to Burlington, Vt., to meet with advisers.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, had just 3.3 percent of the Wisconsin vote, while New York activist Al Sharpton had 1.8 percent -- just 0.3 of a point ahead of retired Gen. Wesley Clark, whose name remained on the ballot although he dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Kerry.
CNN reported exit polls showed Wisconsin voters based their presidential choice on two issues: jobs and the economy, with Iraq a distant concern.